APTA Streetcar and
Seashore Trolley Museum Logo
Heritage Trolley Site
Hosted by the Seashore Trolley Museum
Memphis, TN

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1370 Levee Road

Memphis, TN 38108

Frank Tobey, Assistant General Manager

(901) 722 7100


The Main Street Trolley was initially proposed as part of a rehabilitation of a downtown pedestrian mall, which had been built in the 1970s and had not met expectations. The initial 2.5-mile line provided service along a rebuilt, but still auto-free, mall. It also extended north to the redeveloping Pinch District, and south to a new intermodal transportation center. The initial line opened in 1993. A parallel line along a railroad right of way was subsequently implemented in 1997. This line serves the Pyramid Sports center, provides a scenic ride along the Mississippi River waterfront, and serves new residential development. The residential development consists of both converted office buildings along and adjacent to Main Street, as well new mixed-density development along the river to the south of downtown. The line is more of a vintage light rail line than a tourist trolley.


The line runs in the Main Street Mall for much of its length, and in mixed street traffic on the north and south ends. It is on its own right of way for most of the Riverfront line. Cars stop approximately every other block, and the system is wheelchair accessible. The vehicle fleet consists of a number of rehabilitated single truck cars from Oporto, Portugal; rehabilitated cars from Melbourne; and one replica single-truck car. The maintenance base is at the north end of the line and is has been converted from a city storage facility.


The Main Street Trolley runs seven days a week, about 16 hours a day. The Riverfront line operates on about a 15-minute headway, while the basic Main Street line runs on five-minute headway most of the day. Ridership has grown steadily, as downtown Memphis has become revitalized, and for the first six months of 2000 is about 3,300 per day—up 12% over 1999. In June 2000, the trolley carried 10% of all transit ridership in Memphis.


The Main Street Trolley is owned and operated as part of the Memphis Area Transit Authority.

Operating Costs and Funding:

The trolley is part of the Transit Authority operation, and its cost of operation is budgeted by that organization.

Capital Costs and Funding:

The initial line was funded by a Federal grant that came about when the Federal Highway Administration was prevented by environmental reasons from comp1eting a planned freeway through historic Overton Park. The funds earmarked for the road were escrowed, and were available for the trolley when it was approved for construction. Subsequent funding has come from normal transit sources.

System Benefits:

The trolley has become a key mobility means for downtown Memphis. It is heavily used by tourists and visitors, but has also become a means for making short downtown trips for employees and residents of the area. As more new construction and rehabilitation of downtown occurs, the trolley is becoming a key means of transportation. Currently, the line is being extended from Main Street east to the Medical Center.

System Problems and Issues:

No major problems have been reported

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